maple macarons
PHOTOGRAPH BY ZOE SCHAEFFER

Maple Macarons With Bacon Buttercream

Forget the tea—serve this macho cookie with a bourbon.

October 14, 2015

For the ultimate maple cookie, Rodale Test Kitchen Director Juli Roberts developed these maple-bacon macarons, delicate, light-as-air, maple flavored meringues sandwiching a rich, sweet filling studded with salty bacon. It’s a dessert that goes well with all things wintry and cozy—we like it with a woodstove, a wool blanket, and a bourbon. 

Makes about 40 cookie sandwiches

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Cookies
7½ ounces (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
4½ ounces (1¼ cups) finely ground almond flour
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ cup maple sugar

Filling
5 strips maple bacon (not thick cut)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
6 to 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cookies
1.
Line 2 flat baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

2. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour into a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whisk the egg whites on medium speed until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the maple sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking about 30 to 45 seconds before adding the next. Continue whisking the whites until they turn glossy and stiff and hold a straight peak when you lift the beater, about 8 minutes.

3. Using a large silicone spatula, fold half of the confectioners’ sugar mixture into the egg whites. Once incorporated, fold in the remaining confectioners’ sugar mixture until just combined.

4. Scrape the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip. Pipe the batter onto the prepared sheets into quarter size rounds (about 1-inch diameter) that are about ½-inch tall, spaced about 1½ inches apart. Hold the piping bag straight up and flick the bag to the side a bit to ensure there are no peaks. Tap the baking sheet on the counter a couple of times to lightly flatten the mounds and release any air bubbles. Let rest at room temperature until the batter no longer feels sticky, about 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat to 325 degrees.

6. Put the baking sheets in the oven and reduce the oven to 300 degrees. Bake, rotating and swapping the positions of the pans, until the cookies are pale golden, about 17 minutes. Cool completely on the baking sheets on racks. Carefully peel from the parchment paper and pair them by size. If you have batter left, repeat with the cooled baking sheets and new parchment.

Filling
1. 
In a large skillet over medium heat cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 8 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and measure out the rendered bacon fat. Remove that amount from the butter, (i.e. 3 tablespoons of bacon fat, remove 3 tablespoons of butter for a total of 8 tablespoons fat) and let cool to room temperature. Let the bacon cool to room temperature, finely chop and transfer to a small plate.

2. In a small metal bowl, that fits snuggly over the top of a saucepan, whisk the sugar and egg whites. Bring 1½-inches of water to a simmer in the saucepan over medium high heat. Place the metal bowl in over that saucepan (don’t let the bowl touch the water) and heat the mixture, whisking occasionally, until hot and the sugar has melted, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Scrape the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on medium high until the mixture is opaque white and cool to the touch, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the bacon fat, whisking to incorporate; add the butter one piece at a time, whisking in between each addition to incorporate. Increase the mixer speed to medium and whisk until the buttercream is smooth, about 4 minutes more. Mix in the vanilla. 

Assemble
1. Scrape the butter cream into a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip. Pipe just enough butter cream onto half of the cookies so that it spreads to the edge when topped. Top the filled halves with their partners. Roll the edges in the bacon and serve.

2. These are best eaten day of but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or up to 2 weeks in the freezer.